GLOBAL MIGRATION: BRAIN DRAIN AND BRAIN GAIN
Demetrios Papademetrious, President of the Migration Policy Institute, emphasizes that it is important for policy makers to realize that there are positives and negatives regarding immigration. He supports policies that increase scrutiny of immigrants for homeland security protection yet opposes policies that take away their civil liberties. He urges the United States to find ways that integrate immigrants into its social fabric while making immigrants contribute to the nation’s economy in a manner that increase our economic competitiveness.
He calls for increased enforcement programs that will keep illegal immigrants from entering the country. He also notes more needs to be done to halt illegal remittances to family members in other countries, noting this outflow of funds is larger than our foreign aid to many of these countries. He also notes that policies that restrict social services to more recent immigrants not only is harming may such immigrants but it is also having harmful affects on their children. He argues these policies do little to dissuade immigrants from seeking the still potentially better economic benefits of moving to America and thus they are ineffective as well as hurtful.
Stopping all immigration at the Mexican border still will not resolve the problem of illegal immigration, according to Dr. Papademetrious. He notes that approximately 40% to 50% of all illegal immigrants are people who overstay their legal visas.
He is critical of policies that promise 1.8 million legal immigrants they can unite their families and bring them into America and then restrict such immigration to 150,000 per year. He does recommend that immigration policies be adopted that encourage people who are of productive employment age (28 to 55) to enter the country. He further recommends allowing foreigners already noted for skills as scientists, engineers, or similar useful skills be allowed easier entrance to America.
Papademetrious came to America from Greece knowing only a little English. He worked his way through Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre as an undergraduate and then through the University of Maryland where he received his doctorate.
Demetrios Papademerriou told how immigration is a global condition where 2.5% of all people, or about 200 million, are immigrants. Most immigrants live in Asia followed by North America and then Europe. Even the United States sees 4 to 6 million of its own citizens living in foreign countries. Countries adopt policies to select immigrants. He categorizes these policies into two main categories.
Some countries seek to attract immigrants that will fulfill their human capital needs. Some countries use some type of point system where they give greater weight to allowing people as immigrants who are younger, better educated, have better language skills, and have needed workforce experience.
A second method used is to condition immigration upon a labor condition, such as sponsorship by a business. This method usually seeks out highly trained employees and is used in information technologies, communications, and technological industries.
Many countries leaders find it difficult to explain to voters why low skilled employees should be let to enter their countries. Yet, over 90% of immigrants have low skills yet they often are very enthusiastic employees. Many countries will need such employees to fulfill projected job losses as workforce retirement rates increase. These employees will be necessary to provide income that will keep health care and retirement systems financially afloat. Worldwide over the next three decades, there is a projected unfunded gap in health care of $32 trillion and of $60 trillion in supporting retirees, according to Demterios Papademeriou.
Dell, Inc., which has the largest global market share of personal computers, was founded by Michael Dell in 1984 on a $1,000 investment. Michael Dell began the company by selling computers directly and customers and inquiring what it was customers wanted from their computers. He began a manufacturing operation in Texas that would produce computers adopted to meet individual customer specifications. Dell was the first company that offered to be able to reach customers on their sites within the next day. The company attributes this customer service innovation as the key to its success. Dell has been criticized for becoming a victim of its own success, as there have been complaints about long increases in the time it takes Dell customer service representatives to handle the amount of phone calls regarding incoming phone calls, a problem Dell has acknowledge with a $100 million commitment to improve this.
Fortune magazine, in 2005, rated Dell as its “more admired company.” The Human Rights Campaign, which monitors for discrimination against people on sexual preference, gave Dell its highest rating in its hiring attitudes. There has been a class action suit filed against Dell for allegedly offering no interest loans to buyers and then charging interest.
Dell’s second manufacturing plant was built, and continues operating, in Lebanon, Tn. The tour of Dell showed the process of the Tennessee plant that takes various components purchased from suppliers and assemblies computers according to actual orders. Dell keeps no inventory and keeps rolling orders according to customer demand. The assembled products are boxed, labeled, and shipped to carriers from the plant.
The Dell plant in Tennessee serves orders in the Eastern United States. The Dell representative stated that it is a myth that Dell chose to locate in Tennessee due to local labor costs and tax incentives. The company chose to locate in Tennessee due to its proximity to the Eastern U.S. markets.
A BUSINESSMAN’S PERSPECTIVE: EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IS BOTH A MORAL IMPERATIVE AND A SOUND INVESTMENT
George Kaiser, President of Kaiser-Francis Oil, is a strong supporter of early childhood education. Kaiser believes early childhood education improves lifelong educational achievement and economic productivity. He sees investments in early childhood education as create long term savings through ultimately reducing poverty. He is critical that Head Start offers early education to only 104 children in his hometown of Tulsa where there are 13,000 would need early childhood services. His company contributed $2 million, and he raised another $7 million, towards providing early childhood education for about 200 additional children in Tulsa.
George Kaiser stated that investment in early childhood education is the most important investment in economic development that can be made. He cited studies showing that children exposed to mental stimulation and warm human contact in their earliest years have greater earnings and lower contacts in corrections and social services.
Undeveloped brain cells at birth seek to determine what a person will become, 85% of brain cells are developed by age 3. He is upset that current early childhood programs reach only 1% of children in Tulsa. He sought the best model he could find, which he believes is the Ounce of Prevention program in Chicago which is funded by Warren Buffet's daughter Suzie. Parents receive instructions in parenting and in providing brain stimulation at home. He is establishing a similar program in Tulsa.
The Oklahoma legislature approved $15 million in private-public matching grants for early childhood education. He states that early childhood education is the best thing that can be best to achieve equality.
THE GLOBAL EDGE: ECONOMIC SUCCESS IN A COMPETITIVE WORLD
Matthew Kisber, as Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, coordinates economic development programs with state government, local government, and Chamber officials as well as with other economic development personnel. He formed the Fast Track program that seeks to rapidly provide information and assistance to companies seeking to invest in Tennessee. Commissioner Kisber created the office of Director of Technology Development to specifically reach out to expanding technology companies. Tennessee has been noted by the business community for its cooperative coordination between state government offices such that each office is aware of what the other offers and is doing, which is something business executives find unique in their dealings with state government offices.
James Sasser, former U. S. Senator and Ambassador to China, observes that China is investing a trillion dollars into its infrastructure. He notes China has made some slow reforms towards lessening its central government control of its economy, allowing more independence in the operations of the People’s Bank of China, and improving education which he believes are improving its economic strength. He observes that China still is oppressive towards human rights and maintains censorship over its newspapers and information inflow.
Ambassador Sasser told how China has made major investments in primary education. This is giving them an edge in the worldwide economy. He urged the U.S. to make greater investments in education to remain competitive in world markets.
Frederick W. Smith took his $4 million inheritance and started FedEx in 1971 as an overnight delivery service that only served 25 cities as of 1973. Today it is a $16 billion worldwide service employing 170,000.
U.S. Rep. John Tanner is concerned that Federal budget deficit is too high, that wasteful spending needs to be ended, and that Congress can act to reduce such waste. It upsets him that many government agencies do not use proper accounting standards. He proposes automatic Congressional hearings whenever the Inspector General finds over $1 million in government spending waste, fraud, or mismanagement. He urges that Congress seek performance reviews on government agencies.
Rep. Tanner also expresses concern that over $2 trillion of U.S. Treasury securities are held by foreign banks. Japan is the foreign country with the most of such holdings. China has the second largest holding of Treasury securities with over $300 billion. He is fearful that china could cause large inflation within America should China decide to sell its share of our securities.
Rep. Tanner is upset that leaders are refusing to recognize the problems of the Federal budget and debt. These issues are seen as problems for future leaders. He notes the accrual accounting of our debt shows it to be twice as much as is reported on a cash basis. A greater portion of the budget goes towards paying interest,, for which taxpayers get nothing in return. He warns there are future obligations that can not be met and that our nation faces an economic crisis greater than the Great Depression.
SUPREMES RULE ON RE-REDISTRICTING OF TEXAS
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was permissible for a state to conduct more than one redistricting per ten years. While states are required to redistrict after every census, there is no restriction that state may redistrict more frequently. The potential political results from this have been noted, for it would allow a state legislature that changes control from one political party to another (as occurred in Texas) to conduct a new redistricting. While the Supreme Court ruled that parts of the re-redistricting plan developed under Republican control of the process violated the Voting Rights Act, it upheld the right of re-redistricting to occur.
Mark Braden, an attorney for the Republicans, notes this ruling will allow any state to re-redistrict and predicts that re-redistricting will become a political tool of the future. Martin Braden agreed that without the Texas re-redistricting that Nancy Pelosi today would be House Speaker. He also agreed this case had marginal legal impact on election law. The courts have ruled there can be a racial imbalance amongst districts so long as the candidate of the majority of the minority community would be elected. Redistricting that would prevent such a candidate from winning would violate the civil rights of the voters
Sam Hirsch, an attorney for the Democrats, is concerned that redistricting is tending to make districts less competitive. He argues that election outcomes, at least regarding which political party will win districts, are becoming more influenced by during redistricting rather than during balloting. He has re-redistricting as allow partisan exploitation of the political process. This is placing democracy more in the hands of the politicians rather than the voters.
Sam Hirsch stated the Texas re-redistricting was politically important as it determined control of Congress. Democrats lost six seats in Texas. The Supreme Court ruling on the Texas re-redistricting though did not dramatically alter election law but only touched on the law at the margins. The Court avoided ruling on Constitutional questions yet stated it had to be redrawn due racial issues caused by a lack of Hispanic districts. The question of how to define partisan gerrymandering under law was not touched.
Michael McDonald, Assistant Profess or Public and International Affairs at George Mason University, argues that redistricting is reducing the competitive nature of legislative elections. It is designed to protect incumbents and is creating districts where incumbents have a high chance of winning reelection. Michael McDonald stated the courts have not defined what partisan symmetry means. He notes that because a political party gets 54% of the vote does not entitle them to 54% of the seats, as was decided in the Pennsylvania case. What he has noted is that legislatures wanted to create lots of safe seats for both parties without aiming for a supermajority for the party in control.
McDonald notes that 2 states permit re-redistricting within state laws, 35 states make no mention of this in their state laws, 4 states prohibit Congressional re-redistricting, 12 states prohibit legislative re-redistricting, 33 states tie redistricting to the census but it is unclear if that would prohibit a re-redistricting, and 23 states have Attorney General opinions that re-redistricting would be permitted. He doesn't see too many states acting on re-redistricting after witnessing the political fallout from the move in Texas to re-redistrict.
LEGISLATIVE COMPETITION AND THE ROLE OF GERRYMANDERING
Bruce Cain, Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley has noted that computerized election information allow redistricting to be conducted that can more accurately produce expected outcomes. This allows those who control redistricting to create districts that will produce political results in elections with high degrees of likelihood. Pennsylvania is one state where it is observed that Republicans, while receiving approximately half the total votes cast for legislatures, have won control of both legislative Houses by safe margins. While sections of states can are not likely to see their political results changes much according to how their districts are drawn, because they lean so strongly towards one political party, he notes that the marginal districts can be drawn to practically assure political control to a particular political party. While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that redistricting can not shut out another political party, it left proving this vague and it has been tough to get the courts to accept that redistricting has reached this level. He believes courts view most redistricting fights as political struggles into which the courts do not wish to get involved. Further, what he sees often occurring in many states is redistricting, not to allow one political party to dominate a state, but redistricting that creates many safe seats for both parties while virtually assuring control, but not dominance, to one political party. He views this as happening in states such as Pennsylvania and Texas.
Bruce Cain noted that recent redistricting efforts sought to avoid the overly partisan efforts of one-party dominance that lead to much litigation. This caused the redistricting measures to create many safe seats for both parties. He needs sees greater partisanship and believes redistricting will switch back towards seeking to establish partisan domination.
Michael McDonald showed statistics that congressional and legislative elections are most competitive in the first election following redistricting and that each subsequent election becomes less competitive until there is a new redistricting. This was the history until the 2002 election when elections failed to be as competitive as in previous elections following redistricting.
State legislature incumbents are reelected about 95% of the time, according to Professor McDonald. Competition has even decreased sharply within primaries. Races for Governor are the most competitive. He urged lawmakers to consider campaign reform and how they may different affect different types of races. Term limits often decreases competition for office as challengers wait to run once the seat is an open seat
Karin MacDonald, Director of the Statewide Database at the University of California, Berkeley, told how her research developed over 100 redistricting proposals for California. Her research indicates that a race is competitive when either a Republican holds a 3% or less advantage or when a Democrat holds a 10% or less advantage. She also notes it is impossible to draw a Congressional redistricting for California without creating some safe Democratic seats.
ARE VOTERS WHO THEY SAY THEY ARE?
Doug Chapin, Executive Director of Electionline.org, observes there are requirements that voters have an ID in order to vote. There are fears this will reduce voters turnout as legitimate voters without IDs will be refused to be let to vote. Supporters of this idea state it should reduce the possibility that a voter will fraudulently vote. Some observers note that, to the degree any voter fraud exists, that it will more likely occur with absentee ballots, which, because they are mailed in, do not require any ID.
Doug Chapin notes in 2000 only eleven states allowed provisional balloting. This is now required across the country. Two thirds of voters are voting by using a new technology different from what they use din 2000. About half the states require a verifiable paper audit train or similar paper ballot to guarantee the accuracy of the voter count, which, of course, means that half the states do not have this requirement. One state, Arizona, allow voter registration to occur online. Arizona also is the only state that requires voters to provide proof of citizenship.
Doug Chapin sees voter ID as becoming a major issue, and concerns over electronic machines decreasing. He notes some states require showing IDs with their current addresses yet many people have drivers’ licenses with old addresses. This may be a large body of voters who may be turned away from the polls. He also sees emerging issues as Arizona requires proof of citizenship in order to register to vote
Sen. Doug Balfour of Georgia defended requiring showing ID to vote. He stated Georgia found ten deceased voters who continued having perfect voting records after they died. He also told of an election district where a candidate lost by 40 votes and, in a district where the candidate won by 52 to 48, a supposedly missing ballot box was found that gave the defeated candidate a 149 to 2 margin in that same election district. He stated voters can get IDs for free. People need IDs to cash checks and rent movies, and he believes they should show IDs in order to vote
Jenny Rose Flanagan, Associate Director of Colorado's Common Cause, noted there have been very few cases of individual voter fraud found. In Ohio, only four ineligible voters were found. What concerns her are organized voter fraud and voter intimidation efforts. She also argued that the cost and time involved in getting the documentation for even free voter IDs amounts to a poll tax.
WILL FALL ELECTIONS RUN LIKE CLOCKWORK?
U.S. Election Assistance Commissioner (EAC) Paul DeGregorio states the EAC has provided over $3 billion to states to improve their elections processes. The EAC has adopted a list of Best Practices in administering elections and advised official officials on improving elections procedures. He believes the Help American Vote Act is achieving its goals of improving elections by requiring states to modernize its voting procedures. He notes the next challenge is getting people to adapt to these new systems, and he warns that confusion and glitches are to be expected.
Commissioner DeGregorio stated major efforts need to be undertaken to teach election officials how to use new voting systems. He notes some elections are better prepared than others, and that funding seems to be what makes the difference in being prepared. He noted some places have innovative ideas such as electronic poll books that allow election officials to tell a voter who appears at the wrong election district where the correct ballot site is located. He also notes some states have maintenance of efforts concerns, as some states that bought their machines early now wish to find funds to switch to updated machines.
COUNTDOWN TO CENSUS 2010
The Census Bureau is planning on using technological advancements to improve the 2010 census. For instance, it awarded $500 million to the Lockheed Martin Corporation to develop an Internet census response. Census gatherers will carry hand held computers. The Census Bureau is also meeting with various groups and receiving advice on how to conduct a more complete and total count. Census officials told how the 2000 census came in within its given budget and on schedule. The 2010 census has been reengineered. The 2010 census will be provided less money, is expected to use more electronic data to cut down on paperwork, and is designed to collect more data more accurately.
COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME
The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum receives public funds from the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission. The public may view exhibits and learn about the history of country music. The Museum also operates tours of RCA Studio B, which is leased to the Museum for $1 a year. This is the studio that was used by many noted recording artists including Elvis Presley and Eddy Arnold.
WALK FOR WELLNESS
Improved health is encouraged through getting people to walk more often. Eddie George, who followed a wellness program, benefited from good health as no never missed a single game while playing for the Tennessee Titans football team. Eddie George spoke of the importance of exercising in fending off disease in addition to making one stronger and healthier. He urged people to get the health care costs under their own control by exercising more.
LESSONS ON LEADERSHIP
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s most recent book, “A Team of Rivals”, is about Abraham Lincoln and how Lincoln used Cabinet members representing rival factions to unite for his common goals, with Lincoln deftly in control. Lincoln was a very astute politician who parlayed his honest empathy and concern for others into a compromise position for various factions to turn to him for leadership. This got Lincoln nominated and then elected President. The ability to take command, be truly sincere about positions, and unite rivals behind a common cause are important lessons for leaders to note.
Doris Kearns Goodwin stated she believes history will remember Lyndon Johnson for his wok on civil rights, voting right, open housing, Medicare, and education and how his understanding of how to get legislation through Congress allowed all these proposals to be approved. He was good working one on one and knew what would get legislators to agree with him. She told how he get Sen. Everett Dirksen to break a Republican deadlock on approving civil rights by telling him that school children would remember his name years later for his doing this. President Johnson kept a chart on where his legislation was and he would telephone key members of Congress from early morning and once until 2 am.
She told how Abraham Lincoln created a Cabinet composed of his political rivals. Lincoln sharpened his ideas by listening to their divergent views and Lincoln sought to bring out the best in all of them. He would then develop an agreement and rally them all behind the cause.
Lincoln is viewed by Doris Kearns Goodwin as an excellent politician. He bore no grudge, which allowed him to work with people with whom had opposed him before. Lincoln was driven by a belief that he needed to achieve good works in order to be remembered. Lincoln sought the best in people and drew out their best. He did not mind sharing glory, as he put his goals ahead of glory and knew that letting others share the glory helped him achieve his goals. Lincoln avoided making enemies and would not disparage others. This helped him because President when a factionalized Republican Party turned to the one candidate acceptable to all when the factions had disparaged each other.
ARE 527s HERE TO STAY?
Karl Aro, a legislative staff member from Maryland, told how 527s spent $400 million in the 2004 elections. They are a force in politics which are not constrained by disclosure requirements of who contributes to them nor by limits on how much money they can accept.
Paul Ryan, Associate Counsel for The Campaign Legal Center, notes that West Virginia is the only state that regulates nonprofit political 527 organizations. 527s became politically important when Congress placed limitations on contributions for “soft money” that political parties could spend on issue advertising. These separate 527s have no Federal limits on the amounts of contributions they may receive. West Virginal law limits contributions to 527s to $1,000 before a primary and another $1,000 before a general election. In addition, West Virginia requires any 527 that spends $5,000 or more, or that mentions a political candidate by name, to register with the West Virginia Secretary of State. Some 527s argue that states can not regulate an organization that is rendered tax exempt under Federal law, yet Paul Ryan maintains that a state may regulate a 527 as pertaining to state elections.
Legislation has been introduced by Senators Trent Lott, Chuck Schumer, John McCain, and Russ Feingold and U.S. Representatives Christopher Shays and Marty Meehan to require 527s seeking to influence a Federal election to abide by the same rules as those that apply to public action committees. This would include limiting individual contributions to $25,000per year.
Paul Ryan explained how various sections of the tax code are designed to handle various non-profit organizations and the degree to which they can become politically involved. 501(c)(3) groups can not spend more than 20% of their budget on lobbying yet contributions to them are tax deductible. 527s may be primarily for influencing elections but contributions to them are not tax deductible. Most county political organizations are 527s, meaning they support partisan candidates but they are not directly linked to the organizations of the candidates they support. Within this definition there has arisen independent groups that advocate the election or defeat of candidates. Some states have sought to limit how much can be contributed to 527s in state elections. The Federal Elections law prohibits 527s from communicating with voters prior to 60 days before an election, but the messages they have delivered have proved to be effective in some elections.
Jason Torchinsky, an attorney who has represented the Bush-Cheney campaign, states that federal law only banned corporate and labor money in federal elections but left individual contributions unrestricted. Numerous complaints have been filed regarding 527s, but the Federal Election Commission has yet to rule on them. He notes the FEC now allows unions and business groups to broadcast grass roots ads. He predicted how states and Congress decides to regulates 527s may depend on how legislators believe 527s can help or hurt their political party
An ultra-low sulfur clean diesel fuel will be put on the market on October 15, 2006. Diesel is the most efficient fuel for internal combustion engines, with 20% to 40% higher miles per gallon over similar gasoline engines. Environmental, cost, and energy dependent concerns are driving some to seek alternative fuels. The diesel fuel industry is seeking to develop diesel fuel with fewer pollutants to fight off competition from gasoline and alternative fuels.
Beginning this year, consumers purchasing hybrid clean diesel cars, trucks, and SUVs are eligible for tax credits of $3,400 or less. The amount of credit varies according to the purchased vehicle’s efficiency and emissions level ratings as determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Next year, a new generation diesel engine will be on the market.
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act authorizes $1 billion over five years in voluntary federal and state grants and loans for retrofitting existing diesel engines. Trucks, buses, and construction vehicles can achieve emission reductions of 90% or less from these retrofits. President Bush proposed $49.5 million for this program from Fiscal Year 2007. Congress is fighting over whether an additional $35.1 million should be provided for state and local air quality grants.
Legacy encourages people to give up smoking. They are critical of the tobacco industry for focusing their mandated advertising against youth smoking by focusing on areas that few youths take, such as encouraging them to talk to their parents about smoking, as in practicality few youths would do that. They believe there are more effective advertising means that should be undertaken to convince young people from smoking, and their advertising has been more direct and hard hitting against smoking and the tobacco industry.
Several state senators mentioned how it is difficult but possible to quit smoking. 5% of smokers quit smoking.
Former Governor Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey told how asthma is the single most common reason why school children miss school. While smoking does not cause asthma, the second hand smoke can induce and exacerbate asthma attacks. She encourages parents to stop smoking for their children's health and education
The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit public policy research that believes there are free market solutions to most policy dilemmas. They believe it would be a misallocation of resources to attempt to combat global warming on any grand scale. They believe that mandate higher minimum wages will lead to job loss. They believe high speed rail projects are too costly for the environmental benefits they derive. They oppose government-owned broadband providing wireless services to a city’s citizens. They support the merger of AT&T with Bell South.
WOMEN’S LEGISLATIVE NETWORK
Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman argues that moderate Republicans need to demand a greater role in the leadership of the Republican Party. She notes that the public is turning away from Republicans on several social issues. She urges the Republican Party move towards the political middle and urges moderate Republicans to assist in achieving this goal.
Christine Todd Whitman told how when she became Governor of New Jersey, she wanted to bring more women to the political tables in order to bring the different perspectives and life experiences of women into considerations of policy issues. She told of the difficulties that women face in politics, noting that journalists mention what she wears, which they do not mention about the men, and how some seem to perceive female leaders as not being "tough enough". She stated she believes it is best to show toughness by planning a goal, show how ones plans to achieve the goal, and then sticking to it.
She believes both political parties are becoming too extreme and that moderates are being left out. There is 10% voter turnout in primaries with a majority of extremists often voting. She urged parties to appeal more to their bases. She criticized President Bush for allowing religion to trump science and the public will be vetoing stem cell research.
NCSL ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING
Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff complemented on state legislators and state officials for working closely with the Federal government on homeland security programs. He stated legislators have a role in assuring citizens of their work and of the need to be prepared for acts of terrorism. He spoke of the recent thwarted plan that was designed to bring several airplanes down. He called this an act of war from radical groups and that there is a need to defend the country from an international enemy.
Secretary Chertoff stated all Federal agencies are coordinating their homeland security operations well and that the US has an excellent cooperative arrangement with the British and other allies. He noted the United States spends three times as much easy day as do the British on homeland security. He noted the US has not been attacked since September 11, 2001 although the British have. Agencies in several companies are actively exchanging information in an international effort to stop terrorism.
We need to focus on possible future threats and not just past threats, Secretary Chertoff urged. He told how pilots are not armed and fly with secured doors. Airport screeners have received instruction on looking for detonator components and on recognizing specific behavioral patterns of possible terrorists.
$10 billion has been spent on improving port security, including $550 million on radiation and non-intrusive x-ray machines that can examine port cargo. Currently 80% of containers are tested for radiation and next year all will be. Responders are now better able to communicate with each other using proper equipment. FEMA has been retooled to better respond to emergencies. He also told how Congress is looking at the problem of the myriad of IDs which makes it easy to make fake IDs as screeners may not be familiar with all the kinds of government IDs that currently exist.
CREATING A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
Patt Summitt believes that proper team building leads to success. She coaches the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team and has won more games as a coach than any other NCAA Division I coach in history. She has coached six national championship teams. She believes that proper motivation from leadership, team cooperation, and a winning spirit can apply beyond the basketball court to most any office. She is dedicated to her work, as noted by her giving birth to her son just hours after returning from a recruitment drive in Pennsylvania.
Her system for success in one composed of respect, responsibility, loyalty, communication, discipline, passion, working hard and smart, placing team ahead of yourself, winning attitude, being competitive, knowing how and when to change, and handling success as one handles failure.
Pat Summitt spoke of the importance of groups working as a team. She advised people to look at themselves and if there is anything they don't like about themselves, they should change it. She encourages people to get out of their comfort zones and to be flexible in order to become better teammates. She stated people need to act in a fashion so they may still respect themselves. Further, people should develop loyalty by being great communicators and letting teammates know how much you appreciate them. One’s attitude is important and being positive can help those around you be more positive
TENNESSEE STATE CAPITOL
The Tennessee State Capitol opened in 1859. It was designed by William Strickland of Philadelphia. William Strickland passed away during the construction and his wish to be buried within the walls of the Capitol was granted. President James Polk is buried under the Capitol grounds. A bullet hole where the House Sergeant of Arms fired to prevent a legislator from leaving to prevent a quorum remains.
LeAnn Rhimes is an official voice of the Children’s Miracle Network and has performed on several military bases.
DUELING POLLSTERS: HOW WILL AMERICA VOTE IN NOVEMBER?
Pollster Peter Hart detects growing voter unease over the policies of the Bush Administration and dissatisfaction over the Republican controlled Congress. He has conducted a poll showing voters favoring Democrats for Congress by 48% to 38%. His poll also notes that 38% state their member of Congress deserves reelection while 48% stated it is time to give another candidate a chance to serve. Yet, he warns that this does not automatically translate into a Democratic takeover of Congress after the 2006 elections.
Peter Hart, pollster for NBC News, the Wall Street Journal, and Democratic candidates, told his polls show by 60% to 27% that Americans polled believe the nation is moving in the wrong direction. 65% are not confidant that their children's lives will be better than theirs. People are concerned about the affordability of college, housing, and the future of the environment, declining morals and values. There is a lack of trust in institutions: 22% trust Congress, 22% trust corporations, 28% trust network news, and 53% trust churches. There is a general sense that institutions are letting them down.
Bush's approval comes from 39% of those polled by Peter Hart. Bush's approval has been under 40% for 14 consecutive months, which is the longest that any President has continually had approval ratings under 40% since Nixon's 14 month period leading until his resignation.
Voters are unhappy with their leaders, and Democratic challengers stand to benefit, according to Hart. Independents want a Democratic Congress by 44% to 24% wanting a Republican Congress. Moderates favor Democrats over Republicans for Congress by 56% to 21%. White males favor Democrats for Congress by a 2 per cent margin and voters over 65, who have high turnout rates in off year elections, favor Democrats by a 22 percent point margin. 39% state their vote for Congress will be meant as a signal of disapproval of Bush while 21% say their vote for Congress will be a signal of support for Bush. Among Independents this question has a 41% to 13% result.
Still, all is not good news for Democrats. For the first time ever, both political parties have negative approval ratings. Democrats are viewed at 32% favorable and 35% unfavorable. The issues voters pick most important in these polls are Iraq at 48%, terrorism at 29%, gas prices and energy at 27%, jobs and the economy at 25%, health care at 25%, and illegal immigration at 20%.
Hart predicts Bush will make a troop withdrawal announcement before the November elections. (Frank Luntz has advised Republican candidates to make safety from terrorism an issue in the last 30 days of the election.) Hart noted one way to tell this is an unpopular war by the fact there has not been a single Iraqi war bride.
There is a sense the economy is not working, according to Hart. 74% are uneasy over rising gas prices. By 78% in favor to 20% opposed, voters want an increase in the minimum wage.
Hart predicts the stem cell research issue is helping Democrats. He called this the ultimate personal issue with many families having a family member with a disease that could be helped by stem cell research. Voters polled oppose Bush's veto of stem cell research by 62% to 31%.
Immigration divides voters, with 45% believing immigration helps the country more than it hurts and 42% believe it hurts more than it helps, according to Hart, This is what Hart calls a wedge issue, as White voters believe immigration hurts more than it helps by 66% to 25%.
Republican Pollster Frank Luntz has advised Republicans can keep control of Congress in the 2006 elections by presenting straight talk and concentrating on homeland security issues. He states that voters are fearful and Republicans should offer themselves as having the solutions to their fears, urging that Republicans go after the “security mom” vote. He states there should be a strong Republican agenda presented 30 days before the election and that the Republican base needs to be invigorated to increase its voter turnout.
Frank Luntz half jokingly told Republicans to plan for getting other jobs. He stated there is nothing Republicans can do when the mood of the voters is so angry. (He did not mention his memo to Republicans to hold back and fire away on homeland security issues in the last 30 days of the elections, something Karl Rove reportedly advised Joe Lieberman to already do.) While he stated Bill Clinton was the best communicator of the 20th century, he stated Hillary Clinton's candidacy is doomed because, while she polls well with women, she polls terribly among men.
Luntz stated that the Democratic polls do not try and find out what the public really wants. He stated his polls shows men most want more money and women most want more time. Candidates who can appeal to those concerns will do well. He also stated values are important, especially when it comes to voters' children.
Voters most want a candidate who says what he or she means and means what he or she says. He also stated "imagine" is the most powerful word in language and that advertisements and candidates who capture voters' sense of imagination do well.
Luntz stated voters want peace of mind, which is different from security, which is something fearful to voters. Candidates would be best to appeal to voters' sense of peace of mind. He also stated that privacy is a major concern to voters.
The type of political advertising that works best with voters, according to Luntz, is showing an ability to get things done. Voters look for results. As an example, he stated Bush was wrong to campaign on making standards the highest priority in education as voters most want to see improved intellectual development of their children and care less about testing standards. In education, voters can more about how education money is spent than about how much is spent.
Voters prefer candidates who talk about careers rather than talk about jobs, according to Luntz. He also stated that big organizations, such as big government, are considered badly while smaller is considered better. An industry slogan that resonates well are those that conduct "planning on a human scale" and those that are "connected" to their public.
"Infrastructure" is a terrible word for candidates to use, according to Luntz, as many voters do not know what this technical government word means. "Infrastructure improvements" tests poorly with voters, yet when voters are asked about improving roads and schools, they then express strong concern.
33% of Americans express the American dream as having financial success, according to Luntz. He noted that Latinos are the only ethnic group polled that state that home ownership is the American dream.
Luntz advised politicians to get rid of the formal clothing photographs by the American flag, as voters do not believe in that type of photograph. They instead are more attracted to photographs such as the candidate kneeling and listening to a voter talking to them. The brochure should tell voters how they get things done, a couple of goals for the future, and to do so in language meant for the voters and not for bureaucrats. He stated a candidate should acknowledge their frustration at the political system and demonstrate that the candidate has accountability. He further advised candidates to stop trying to put a lot of information that won't be read and to leave lots of white space on their brochure.
Luntz predicted that angry voters tend to come out to vote more than satisfied voters and that the turnout differential will favor the Democrats enough that the differential in turnout alone will cost the Republicans 12 House seats this November.
In 2008, Peter Hart predicted that McCain's quick temper and being age 70 will work against him. Frank Luntz stated that if Hillary Clinton appears to be the likely Democratic nominee early in the primaries that McCain or Guiliani could do well as Republicans will see their ability to get elected as a major asset
WAKE UP: THE FEDERAL FISCAL HOUSE IS FALLING
U.S. Comptroller General David Walker is concerned about the large size of the Federal budget deficit. He blamed increased government spending and tax cuts. He notes that long term liabilities and net commitments, including Social Security and Medicare, rose from $20 trillion in Fiscal Year 2000 to $43 trillion in Fiscal Year 2004, which averages $156,000 per person or $375000 per full time employee.
Comptroller General Walker notes that 19% of the population is over age 65 and is drawing benefits from government social programs. Unfortunately, people are entering their senior years with fewer savings than before which is making senior citizens more dependent upon these programs. He calls for fiscal spending discipline yet notes that Federal spending has been increasing in recent years. He projects that, from 2005 to 2030, Gross Domestic Product will increase by 72% while social security spending will increase by 147%, Medicaid spending will increase by 166%, and Medicare spending will increase by 331%. He forecasts that Federal revenues will be unable to make expected payments by 2040.
He notes that discretionary spending is becoming a smaller portion of the Federal budget, as it represented 66% of the 1965 Federal budget and 39% of the 2005 Federal budget. A growing part of the budget is obligated spending. Liabilities have escalated in a few years, from $20.4 trillion to 2000 to $46.4 trillion in 2005. Much of these liabilities are for Medicare, Medicaid, and social security, with obligations for pharmaceutical contributing to recent significant liability increases. We have become the world's largest debtor nation. Should foreign banks ever decide to stop loaning at our current level of borrowing or should their interest rates ever escalate, our national economy could be in trouble. The growth rate of our debt could make our debt greater than our level of economic activity.
Comptroller General Walker calls for curtailing health care expenses by reducing government spending on health care, limiting litigation of health care delivery, improve preventive and wellness care, allowing government bulk purchasing to reduce the costs of purchasing health care services and pharmaceuticals, and creating health care insurance risk pools. He calls for fiscal discipline on spending and taxes and observes that Americans have the third lowest tax burden among developed countries.
David Walker warned that our nation could be headed towards bankruptcy. He called for biennial Federal budgets, controlling earmarks, improving financial reporting of the Federal budget, and developing better performance measures. He warned that Medicare is seven to eight times greater a problem than social security is. He warned that the prescription drug program comes with a $8.1 trillion cost, which will be more than social security will cost.
Robert Bixby, Executive Director of the Concord Coalition, warns about that the costs of health care and pensions are growing much more rapidly than much of the rest of the economy. He predicts that the share of the economy for the costs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will double by 2030 and triple by 2050. He warns that Social Security may be insolvent within a few decades.
Robert Bixby called it a moral issue that we a leaving an unbearable debt onto future generations. He observed that 53% of the Federal budget is not mandatory spending that do not require Congressional approval or review. Interest payments are the fastest growing part of the debt. The total debt is $8.5 trillion, and Bixby forecasts it will be $55.2 trillion in 2016. Foreign countries own over half the Federal government bonded debt. This compares to 17% of debt held by foreign countries in 1987. Our economy is very vulnerable should foreign countries decide not to have our economic interest in mind. He is worried that social security is promising more benefits than it can afford to pay. He recommends personal savings accounts as a way to fund financial security if they can be funded by a new revenue source.
Brian Riedl, Senior Policy Analyst for the Heritage Foundation, claims 55% of new Federal government spending over the last two years is due to reasons other than Defense or Homeland Security. He calculates that annual Federal expenditures is over $20,000 per household. He is critical that$180 billion in Federal funds is being provided to agribusiness. He calls for reduced Federal spending, but does not believe that increased Federal taxes would be helpful as they would slow economic growth.
Brian Riedl told how 77 million baby boomers are scheduled to retire, with the first retiring in a few months. There currently are three workers for every retiree and by 2030 he forecasts there will be two workers for every retiree. He projects that the size of the interest on the Federal debt will be as large as the Federal budget by 2050, meaning the government could stop all spending and not solve the debt problem. It would take every household to have an average annual Federal tax in current dollars of $11,000 to pay for the debt.
Diane Lim Rogers, a Research Director at the Brookings Institution, observes that the inheritance tax only applies to ½ of 1% of deaths, as it applies only to the wealthiest of estates. She projects that extending the repeal of this tax from 2012 through 2021 would cost the Treasury $1 trillion in lost revenues.
Diane Lim Rogers stated there has to be increases in taxes, reductions in spending, PAYGO rules of both tax cuts and spending, and no more sunsets on taxes on entitlements in order to avoid an economic disaster. She stated the sooner this is done this less the future economic pain will be.